Former Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon will run again for the job next month as he was chosen over software entrepreneur-turned-politician Ahn Cheol-soo in polls to make it a two-way race against the ruling party.
Running on the main opposition People Power Party’s ticket, Oh was declared winner of the bipartisan primary against the leader of the minor opposition People’s Party Tuesday morning.
The primary was based solely on a survey of 3,200 people conducted by two pollsters on Monday.
Oh thanked Ahn, and said he “will lead the way to bring the incompetent and immoral (Moon Jae-in) administration to judgment” in a press conference Tuesday morning.
Latest opinion polls have shown that both Oh and Ahn were likely to beat the ruling Democratic Party’s Park Young-sun in a two-way race, but maybe not in a three-way race.
The winner of the April 7 by-election will serve the remaining 14 months of the late former mayor Park Won-soon’s four-year term.
Park was found dead last July in an apparent suicide on the hills of a mountain, two days after his ex-secretary filed a complaint to police accusing him of sexually harassing her for years.
The Democratic Party revised its rule set up in 2015, when President Moon Jae-in was the party leader, that forbid itself from fielding a candidate in a by-election if it is caused by a DP member.
Oh, popular among the PPP’s traditional support base of conservatives and people aged above 50, is now tasked with wooing centrists and younger voters who preferred Ahn.
Oh, a former lawyer and lawmaker, served as Seoul mayor from 2006 until he quit a year into his second term in 2011 over losing a plebiscite on a free school lunch program.
He was credited for creating a more productive work atmosphere in the city government by sacking underperforming staff, a reformist move in a country where public service has long been considered a job for life.
Oh said on Tuesday that he has lived the past 10 years with a heavy heart, and can now “remove some of the rock” from his chest.
“Let’s forget where we stood yesterday. Let’s do our best together for a desperate victory,” he said.
Official campaigning for the April 7 by-election begins on March 25.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org